Reading The Hobbit

One afternoon when I was ten years old I spotted this paperback sitting on the dining room table.  It appeared to me a very grown-up book -- daunting, intimidating, inaccessible and not for me. Still, I picked it up and read the first paragraph:

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Then I knew this book must be for me. I stood at the table reading through the first chapter, and then finally went to find a comfortable place on the sofa to continue my journey.

My husband and I went to see the new movie version of The Hobbit two weeks ago.  Sitting in the theater brought me back to that moment I picked up this book and stood at table reading those first lines -- a skinny ten year old on the verge of a great adventure. I've read so many other books, traveled, earned university degrees, married, had two children, experienced joys and weathered storms in my life so far, but every time I encounter those first lines:  In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit... I am still that ten year old standing at the table...

Are there any books which bring you back to that first moment?


  1. I still have aspirations of becoming a Hobbit when I grow up! I love the Mists of Avalon, I was a little older than 10 when I read it the first time, I think I was in 10th grade, but for a fantasy book, I still go back and revisit every few years.

  2. A beautiful evocation of your 10 year old self. My almost 10 year old son is really enjoying the Lord of the Rings series at the moment (on DVD) but I am really looking forward to reading it all with him as well.

  3. "The Root Cellar" by Janet Lunn, and Stuart Little!

  4. I enjoyed the movie living here in middle earth, I have not read the book, it always seemed to fine a print and in depth to me, to begin.
    Loved all the "Lord of the Rings" movies
    cheers Marie

  5. My husband is reading this aloud to our whole family right now, and it's AMAZING how every chapter he reads awakens memories and visions in my head that had been tucked away for decades since my dad read it to me when I was about 8. I LOVE it, and I'm looking forward to the date night we will enjoy when we finish reading. (not sure the kids are ready for the movie-version of the story)

  6. The "Little House" books do that for me. Tiven is reading them right now and sometimes when I'm reading with her, I get a flash back to being curled up on my Nana's sofa with the light of the huge plate-glass window behind me, or lying on my stomach on my bed under the stairs long after bedtime. Ah, such sweet memories!

  7. At ten, I fell in love with words through "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" by Joan Aiken, "Peppermints in the Parlor" by Barbara Brooks Wallace, "A Little Princess" by Frances Hogdson Burnett, "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. I love this question. It makes me want to relive my childhood book discoveries. I loved reading your descriptions of your ten year-old self and the beautiful words that drew you in...


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